Virginia’s first-ever director of diversity, equality, and inclusion announced


RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR, WRIC) — Dr. Janice Underwood has been named Virginia’s first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She was previously director of diversity initiatives at Old Dominion University.

Dr. Janice Underwood
courtesy: ODU

The appointment by Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) comes as the state recently named a commission tasked with improving African American education across Virginia. According to an announcement from the governor’s office, Underwood’s new position will develop a sustainable framework to promote inclusive practices across Virginia state government; implement a measurable, strategic plan to address systemic inequities in state government practices; and facilitate ways to turn feedback from state employees, external stakeholders, and community leaders into concrete equity policy.

“I am deeply honored to serve the Commonwealth in this inaugural position. As I embark on this role I will be relying on my many personal and professional experiences as a teacher, an educational researcher, a parent and wife, and a diversity leader. I am dedicated to working with Virginians to promote lasting, institutional change at all levels of state government, and I look forward to working closely with Governor Northam and the rest of his administration to make the Commonwealth more diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all who live here.”

Dr. Janice Underwood, Virginia’s new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Underwood earned bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1998, master’s degree in learning and behavior disorders in 2002 – both from Hampton University – and her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Old Dominion University.

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